Surigao del Sur targets 10,000 hectares planted to cacao

Posted on July 04, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- Surigao del Sur is targeting about 10,000 hectares (ha.) of cacao acreage within the next five years as the province rides a wave of private and government initiatives to develop the crop as a major commodity.

Governor Johnny T. Pimentel said the provincial government is gathering the support of municipal leaders to achieve the target, citing the lead taken by Mayor Allan A. Pelenio of Marihatag town.

“We need the cooperation of the municipalities to hit our goal,” Mr. Pimentel told BusinessWorld last week in an interview in Davao City.

Surigao del Sur, covering a 4,933 square kilometers (over 493,000 ha.) in eastern Mindanao, has 17 municipalities plus the cities of Bislig and Tandag, the capital.

Mr. Pelenio, representing Marihatag and other municipalities, signed an agreement with multinational food company Kennemer Foods Inc. last year for the initial development of about 1,400 ha. into cacao farms.

Under the agreement, the municipal governments will identify the areas that will be planted with the crop and organize the farmers.

Kennemer, in turn, will provide the farm inputs and technology under a contract farming agreement.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Janet M. Lopoz, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said Surigao del Sur’s plan dovetails with the agency’s forthcoming cacao program.

“The initiative will also allow us to reach our goal of achieving our 100,000 metric ton (production) target,” she told BusinessWorld, but declined to giver further details pending the launch of the program.

Mindanao, according to Ms. Lopoz, currently has only 7,413 ha. of cacao farms, and MinDA is targeting to expand that to 200,000 ha by the end of 2016.

Cacao is a priority crop under MinDA’s inclusive growth program, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Under the growth program, MinDA, in coordination with other government agencies and local government units, will help provide investors with a better business climate through support policies and infrastructure. PBSP, on the other hand, will encourage its member companies to consider areas in Mindanao for their ventures.

Other areas in Mindanao that have cacao development programs are Davao Oriental where it is being intercropped with coconuts, Davao City where Kennemer signed a deal with Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries last year, and the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, among others. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco